Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lesson Learned

When I got the email from Terry asking me to come to Ft. Stewart just a few days after I got back from Charlotte, I pretty much lost it.  I thought that they were going to give me sometime to recover from the last trip, and I sent an email back telling everyone that I didn't think I was ready to make another trip at the time.  I met with Kevin (my Vet Center counselor), and told him that I wasn't going to go.  The trip to Charlotte was pretty rough on me.  Kevin and I tried to work on my anxiety related to the trip, and once I hit my "wall" I told him no more, I wasn't going to talk about it.  Kevin and I then started talking about when my anxiety reaches a certain point, I do everything I can to avoid talking about it.  Kevin said that I reminded him of a little kid throwing a temper tantrum, when I get uncomfortable I just refuse to talk about it or try to work through it.  Once Kevin and I talked about it for a little while, I decided that it would be best if I did make the trip.  I sent an email back to Terry letting him know that I would be at Ft. Stewart.

Tuesday was a really long day.  We went to the Mod and sat through a power point with Terry that dealt with signs of stress for the dogs.  We watched a video that showed examples of dogs that were stressed out, and what they did when they got wound up.  We went to a furniture store on post, and after about 10-15 minutes I had reached my breaking point and went out to the car to wait on everyone to finish up inside.  We didn't have much of a break before dinner, only about 45 minutes to try and relax a little.  We all met a Chili's for dinner.  After dinner we went to Lowe's to walk around the stored for a little bit.  It didn't take very long for me to get overwhelmed, and I went back to the car to wait for everyone to get finished. 

Wednesday morning we went to the Starbucks and then to the PX.  Terry had talked a little with my Mom, and told her that it didn't really seem like I was making much progress.  When my Mom told me about their conversation, I got furious.  I've been doing everything they had asked!  They want me to do more?!!  After the walk around the PX, Terry had asked me to go back to Starbucks so we could talk for a little bit.  The conversation that Terry and I had really made me realize that even though I had been doing what had been asked of me, I wasn't using CAROLINE for her intended purpose.  Instead of trying to work through my stress and anxiety, I threw my little temper tantrums and said enough is enough.  I wasn't relying on CAROLINE to help me to work through my stress.  Terry said that he wanted me to let them know before I reached my breaking point so we could start working on those stressful situations.  The conversation we had was a pretty eye opening experience.  I had never looked at it from his point of view.  It never even crossed my mind that I wasn't using CAROLINE as I was supposed to.

Dinner that night was at a Mexican restaurant, and CAROLINE really couldn't have behaved any better.  She got up a couple of times during dinner and would lay her head on my lap, but other than the couple of times she stood up, she did awesome.  It was interesting to see how JAKE was feeding off of John's anxiety, and what everyone had been saying about the dogs mirroring us.  CAROLINE had been pretty hard to handle a couple of times that afternoon, but when she was being difficult, it was usually because I was so stressed out.  Seeing it for myself gave me one of those "AH HA!' moments. 

Thursday was a big day.  The local news station was going to meet all of us at the PX, interview a couple of people and film some of us with the dogs.  I didn't quite make it to be there with the news, but I did let Terry know a little before I thought I was going to have  an anxiety attack.  I had actually told him that I thought CAROLINE had had enough, then just told him that it was really me that had enough.

There were so many things that I learned on this last trip.  I really do think that I get what they are trying to do with these dogs.  I have gotten an understanding of what I need to be using CAROLINE for.  Even though I may have been doing what was asked of me, I wasn't using CAROLINE to help me manage my stress. So Terry, Kyria....when is my next trip?